Author Topic: Soaking Cacao nibs in vodka.  (Read 11313 times)

vorlaufthegreat

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Soaking Cacao nibs in vodka.
« on: September 20, 2011, 04:03:50 PM »
Gonna use some cacao nibs for the first time on a stout. I know some people have luck just adding them directly to the secondary straight from the bag but I decided to soak them in vodka for a little while to make sure I don't get an infection in the beer. I used 5 ounces of cacao nibs for this 5 gallon batch and was just curious if I should strain the nibs from the vodka before adding or just dump both the vodka and nibs into the secondary. I wouldn't think you would get much taste from the vodka seeing as it was just enough to soak the nibs. I also would imagine dumping the vodka off first would lose some of the flavors that might have been extracted from the vodka. Curious as to what others do in this situation.

Offline dbeechum

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Re: Soaking Cacao nibs in vodka.
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2011, 04:07:27 PM »
Give me a couple of days, I started doing a cacao soak this morning. :)
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Offline nateo

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Re: Soaking Cacao nibs in vodka.
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2011, 04:22:47 PM »
This might be a dumb question, but isn't it better to use cocoa powder, where the butter has been separated from the nibs? Or is it such a small amount the fat doesn't matter? I'm picturing head retention issues.

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Offline tygo

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Re: Soaking Cacao nibs in vodka.
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2011, 06:01:58 PM »
For my mocha porter I soaked them in vodka and added the liquid to the secondary as well as the nibs.  As mentioned I think you'd lose a lot of the flavor if you didn't do that and the vodka doesn't contribute any noticeable flavor.

As far as head retention goes that might be an issue.  I haven't used cocoa powder so I can't compare the two techniques but the porter had a pretty thin head that dissipated quickly.  Not sure if that was the coffee, which was cold steeped and which I used entirely too much of, or the nibs.

The chocolate flavor is great.  It was way overpowered by the coffee initially due to the overdosing but the flavors have melded reasonably well with time.  If I made this beer again I'd do the cacao nibs the same way and cut back on the coffee.

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Offline dbeechum

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Re: Soaking Cacao nibs in vodka.
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2011, 08:52:20 AM »
Ok, just strained the cacao off the vodka. Liquid's a beatiful brown color and it's currently sitting in the freezer to see about that pesky cocoa butter.

Smells like "hot" chocolate and tastes pretty awesome. I removed it this morning because last night I started to note some astringency rising. (That usually takes two weeks in a beer soak)

I don't use cocoa powder because despite the fat removal, it's really harsh tasting to my palate and never really leaves the beer unlike the nibs which I feel like I can control.
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Offline dbeechum

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Re: Soaking Cacao nibs in vodka.
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2011, 03:24:15 PM »
Froze the mix down overnight and strained it this morning. Nice bright clear milk chocolate color and a dark chocolate smell.

I soaked 2 oz by weight of raw cacao nibs in 6 oz of vodka for 4 days and then strained the liquor before freezing.

Tonight - into a keg of milk stout.
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Offline nateo

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Re: Soaking Cacao nibs in vodka.
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2011, 03:27:00 PM »
What's the purpose of freezing it?
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Offline tom

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Re: Soaking Cacao nibs in vodka.
« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2011, 03:33:04 PM »
I think he was trying to separate out any fats.
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Offline nateo

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Re: Soaking Cacao nibs in vodka.
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2011, 03:37:48 PM »
I think he was trying to separate out any fats.

So, the fat freezes, but the alcohol doesn't?
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Offline dbeechum

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Re: Soaking Cacao nibs in vodka.
« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2011, 10:24:33 PM »
In pat the fat, but also to force settle any solids that made it through the filtration.

After 24 hours in the freezer, the vodka was definitely still liquid (vodka doesn't freeze until around -17F or so), but there was a surprisingly thick sludge of mud and "powder"

The other surprising bit: started with 6 oz vodka in 2 oz of nibs - after absorption, settling, freezing, and "mud" loses, I ended up with 3 oz of chocolate extract.
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Offline tygo

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Re: Soaking Cacao nibs in vodka.
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2011, 05:45:04 AM »
Freezing is a good tip.  Thanks Drew.  I'll definitely be trying that out the next time I use nibs.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Soaking Cacao nibs in vodka.
« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2012, 03:25:28 PM »
Froze the mix down overnight and strained it this morning. Nice bright clear milk chocolate color and a dark chocolate smell.

I soaked 2 oz by weight of raw cacao nibs in 6 oz of vodka for 4 days and then strained the liquor before freezing.

Tonight - into a keg of milk stout.
Drew, how did this beer turn out?  How was the chocolate flavor/aroma?
Tom Schmidlin

Offline dbeechum

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Soaking Cacao nibs in vodka.
« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2012, 07:52:34 AM »
Hey Tom,

The beer turned out great with just the right amount of cocoa and chocolate noted to it. I still highly recommend adding a little vanilla if you're wanting sweet chocolate type of flavors.
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Offline mihalybaci

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Re: Soaking Cacao nibs in vodka.
« Reply #13 on: August 31, 2012, 08:08:12 AM »
I don't use cocoa powder because despite the fat removal, it's really harsh tasting to my palate and never really leaves the beer unlike the nibs which I feel like I can control.

Just curious, do you know if you were using "natural" cocoa powder or "Dutch process" cocoa? I make my own hot chocolate mix and noticed a pretty huge difference in the two. Natural cocoa powder does have a kind of astringency to it that detracts from the chocolate flavor, but Dutch process cocoa is a much darker color with a smoother, more full chocolate flavor. After comparing the two, I only use Dutch process cocoa powder.

Offline jeffy

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Re: Soaking Cacao nibs in vodka.
« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2012, 08:54:56 AM »
I have put 4 ounces of cocoa nibs in a bag and dropped it into a keg, then pulled it out after 4 days.  I've not had a problem with head retention and get plenty of chocolate flavor.  I've done this in a traditional bock, a milk stout and a double bock.
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